Thursday, April 05, 2007


Tenebrae (Latin for 'shadows') is a time of passing into shadow for Christians, who remember Christ's cruficixion and commemorate His death. It is also the name given to a service of Matins and Lauds belonging to the last three days of Holy Week. In the earliest periods, the church was brightly illuminated by candles during the singing of the Matins and Lauds on Maundy Thursday, and the candles were successively extinguished throughout the three Nocturns on Friday, while the church was kept in complete darkness on Saturday, except for a single candle near the lectern.

Another bit of interesting trivia is that the etymology of "Maundy" in Maundy Thursday derives via Middle English and the Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, which is the first word in the passage of the Vulgate (the Latin Bible) which reads: "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" (A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you), the words of Jesus recorded in John 13:34 by which He explained to His disciples the significance of His washing their feet in the cenacle (upper room) where He celebrated the Passover, or Last Supper, with them.

Of related interest:

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